A local political party has had its logo struck from the register of Northern Ireland parties amid concerns that it could sow confusion among voters.
A “bemused” Frazer McCammond, leader of Dromore-based ‘Democracy First’ - confirmed the party was no longer permitted to use its existing logo on the ballot paper and election material.
“The Electoral Commission deemed that after nearly two years using the logo as was - including the fact that it was on the ballot paper at the council elections in May 2014 -it gave us an unfair electoral advantage,” he said.
The commission sconducted a review to establish whether party identifying marks would be likely to be “confusing, misleading or hinder an elector’s understanding of the ballot paper”, a review that concluded Democracy First’s emblem contained a numeral.
“In the Commission’s opinion,” it said, “a number expressed as a numeral is likely to hinder an elector’sunderstanding of directions for voting given on ballot papers.”
Said Mr McCammond: “Our original design was a play on the letter ‘F’ - shaped like a cross, pointing to the founding values of Democracy First, and the ‘st’ was to indicate the primacy of that cross.
“They contest that the F/cross-like symbol can be construed as a ‘1’ and that therefore potential voters are being seduced into voting for us first.
“The issue is, I believe, over the top and another manifestation of this increasingly PC world . . . If they are on about numerals then NI21’s logo should never have got off the ground.”
An Electoral Commission spokesperson said the review followed a review last year of party names containing numbers, and was a conclusion to that process.
As a result, she said, more than 100 UK party emblems containing numerals were being removed from the GB and NI registers.
As to whether NI21 was among them, she would not comment, she said, on specific parties.
“It’s all about putting the voter first,” she added, “so the voter is completely clear and that there is nothing misleading on the ballot paper. We took the view that numbers in emblems beside where voters would make their mark could be potentially confusing or misleading and so parties affected have got until the end of the month to come up with another emblem to submit to the commissi0on and then that will have to go through an approval process.”